The Barra Funda-based school has been on a rollercoaster ride since 2002, when it peaked as vice-champion in the main parade at the Sambódromo. The school is still parading in the second tier 'Grupo de Acesso', and will try to return to the main league with a history-based birthday theme of an imagined party at a quilombo – a Brazilian fugitive slave settlement.
The basics The rehearsals are a chance for anyone planning to parade to learn that year’s chosen song (samba-enredo), for the drummers to master their rhythms, for the dancers to get in step, and for the neighbourhoods to start the celebrations. But don’t let the term ‘rehearsal’ confuse you – a samba school ensaio is as much a party as a chance for the school to practice, and everyone is welcome for a cover fee. They can be crowded, sometimes slightly chaotic events, so take care to work out beforehand how you’re getting home, and leave valuables behind.